|Review: Kamelot - Silverthorn|
Year released: 2012
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: January 4, 2013
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.26/5 (85.22%) (23 Votes)
I have been awaiting this album with a weird mix of anticipation and dread, as on the one hand I love this band, and on the other they have lost the superlative Roy Khan and their last album was a serious letdown, so I wasn't sure if this would be a step up or a complete disaster. Advance clips from the single "Sacrimony" were somewhat encouraging, and now we have the whole album to digest.
A lot of focus is on new singer Tommy Karevik, late of prog band Seventh Wonder, as he has a hell of an act to follow. Trying to replace Roy Khan, one of the great voices of his generation, had to be an intimidating prospect, but I have to say he does as well as anyone could have done. He doesn't have Roy's resonance at lower registers, and he doesn't have his extraordinary charisma, but he does an amazing job overall. There's also less of an emphasis on the vocal effects Khan seemed obsessed with on the last few albums, and his vocal lines are catchier and more singable than anything off Poetry for the Poisoned. I have to admit that Karevik really steps up from his past work and delivers a tremendous performance.
The songwriting is a bit uneven, and the influence of keyboardist Oliver Palotai is obvious in the synth-heavy compositions and lack of focus on guitar riffs. Youngblood is really in the background here as a player, and I have to say it weakens the band and makes them sound much less organic and more artificial and poppy. The lyrics are pretty good, but sometimes they seem to be trying too hard for the kind of density that Khan was good at. The album opens well with catchy tunes like the aforementioned "Sacrimony" (which features some awful raspy vocals that thankfully do not reappear), the hook-laden "Ashes to Ashes" and "Torn". Things slow down with the ballad "Song for Jolee", which is a good, affecting song, but the album never really recovers its momentum after this.
Some of the later songs, like "My Confession", are quite good, but then we have stodgier numbers like the title track, which is trying so hard to sound like a lost cut from The Black Halo and just can't pull it off. The would-be epic "Prodigal Son" is rather dull - aside from "Memento Mori", Kamelot have never really managed to pull off a real epic. "Falling Like the Fahrenheit" stars off promising, but that chorus is so pop-rock it makes me a little ill.
So after a really strong start, this album kind of trails off in terms of energy and originality, just kind of fading out as it goes on. I don't want to sound like I don't like it, because I do. Even when Silverthorn isn't great, it's listenable. I doubt this band will ever match their great works of the past again, but if they can do this well, I will keep listening.
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